The 2009 Le Tour de Langkawi, Part 2 - Genting Highlands
report and photos by Tuan Senang Besar

This year marked the fourth year of my 'uninvolvement' with the Tour de Langkawi. I have never been up the slopes of Genting Highlands with the rest of the cycling enthusiasts to watch the race up close. So this year, I made a point to have a 'change of view' and drive up to the finish venue with some friends. Annoyingly enough, the organisers must have forgotten that it is a working Friday as they conveniently made The Curve as the starting point at 9.00am. The result, as some of us unfortunately had to experience is a massive traffic gridlock that covers from LDP up to the Sprint Highway which lasted up to 3 hours. We decided to take a detour on the NKVE and exited at Jalan Duta and hit the MRR2 in time before the next road closure. According to the race schedule, the race convoy would arrive at the foothills of Genting Sempah at 11.00am and is the winner is expected to arrive at the finish at noon. A 'short climb' for them indeed. We decided to take a break from boycotting US fast food and enjoyed a McDonald's breakfast before driving up. As roads were already closed by 10.00am. We had to walk down quite a bit from where we parked to the 1km-to-go banner. A bit would be an understatement, actually.

We reached the designated slopes and joined several others who were stationed there since the last one hour. I assessed the location and decided to walk down further to a hairpin below. I thought it would be a good place to shoot photos. The atmosphere was pretty empty and banal. I could hear some of the LeTua supporters practicing their cheers from above. Apart from that, it's rather quiet. Several Singaporean cyclists were seen cringing their way up the steep slopes. We can tell they're Singaporeans by looking at their super expensive bikes. We sat around patiently underneath the scorching hot sun with cool breeze blowing once in a while. I lit up several cigarettes. Went on facebook mobile and wrote a short report to my friends on email. Then we saw several police moto pilots making their way up. And then several more race vehicles, namely VW Golf GTi, Passat and Touareg. NOw I wish I was involved in the Tour....The time was close to noon. The race was slightly behind schedule.I told the rest of my 'photographer' friends to keep an eye on the police Touareg labelled as Command 2 to pass by. That would be followed by the Lead vehicle, Command 1 and then the race leader. And so they did, not too long after.

As expected - the 'tete de la course' was wearing the white and blue jersey of team Diquigiovanni-Androni, none other than Jose Serpa. He was seen to set a blistering pace up the steeper parts leading up to the Chinese Temple. We gunned for our positions to get the best shots of him. Alas, I was using a rather inferior DSLR this time around and was struggling to get the camera operating faster. Oh well. Serpa was surprisingly tralied by the Australian Jai Crawford and the followed by another Diquigiovanni climber, Jackson Rodriguez.

Several more climbers made their way up including Le Tua's Indonesian climber Tonton Susanto who finished 8th on the stage. There was a gap of a few minutes before the non-climbers could be seen grinding their way up in grimace. At the same time, the climbers who finished the stage were seen riding down to Awana. We all went trigger happy with the camera shooting away. I managed to greet my friend, Shinichi (Fukushima) who rode a good stage. Although his team had the most hideous bike colour scheme I have ever seen... (green and pink?).

I suddenly found myself alone. The rest have apparently made their way up with the riders! I had no luck trying to hitch a ride in the broom wagon who was accompanying a Korean rider who looked half dead. I walked up slowly and spotted a Genting Highlands Police on a motorcycle. Luck was on my side! I happily passed my friends on the way up. But the joy was shortlived as he stopped right after that. Never the less, I thanked him and continued my way up on the steep (very steep) gradient ahead. Oh how I missed being in The tour now. We decided to regroup at Starbucks after seeing a 'wall' going up the finish line. We made plans to have lunch at Gohtong Jaya. Some of us took the cable car up and some of us just remembered we had to walk UP quite a bit more to our car park! Did I tell you I missed being in the Tour? As usual, we took a detour to Awana on the way down to drool at bikes which are being washed by team mechanics. Now on to photos from the stage!

Lucas Euser having it tough:

The outgoing yellow jersey, Mattia Gavazzi, who came by 22 minutes after Jose Serpa:

Richie Porte (Australian national team) gives it all:

Kim Gu Hyeon (Seoul Cycling) with a glazed look:

A couple of Kazakhstan national team riders. That T-Mobile helmet ... maybe a donation from Vino?:

One of the smaller gruppettos coming up:

And here we have Ruben Boungiorno, who was completely anonymous this year:

Speaking of which, the team is now on Colnago's CX-1:

Thanks for reading!

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